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Children of Bushidō

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10 minutes ago, Manchu said:

Knowledge of Kolat =\= Membership in Kolat

I mean, he has actual, legit Kolat writings piled up in his cave, and you can only have those if you are a member. 

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31 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

Unless the Kolat was changed in the new fluff and now you can stumble into their stuff if you really want even if you are not a sect-member.

Which should be possible. I mean, it should take some luck or else carelessness on the part of sect members -- but show me a large-scale conspiracy where nobody's ever careless and lets evidence slip, and I'll show you a fantasy far less plausible than shugenja and gods falling to earth. 😛

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10 minutes ago, Kinzen said:

Which should be possible.

It might be the case now, but the Kolat propaganda the PCs can find in the adventure is apparently addressed to Satsume and not just random findings:

Quote

Others papers, though, are not so mundane—they are filled with correspondence concerning the unjust nature of how Rokugan is governed, specifically about the Imperial family and its fitness to rule. The handwriting on them doesn't match any the PCs have seen before, but appears to be addressed to Satsume.

 

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1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

I mean, he has actual, legit Kolat writings piled up in his cave, and you can only have those if you are a member. 

Possession of Kolat Documents =\= Membership in the Kolat

For example, the Ruby Champion knows the Kolat exists and, in the aftermath of the adventure, may even possess Kolat documents.

Along the lines of Kinzen’s comment, I don’t believe the Kolat are un-out-foxable.

Anyhow, what has been suggested vis a vis Sotorii is that Satsume wanted him to ascend the throne in furtherance of some Kolat plot. The RPG starter adventure really does not support that accusation.

Edited by Manchu

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2 hours ago, Manchu said:

We know a Kolat conspirator assassinated Satsume.

Please settle on using either “assumption” or “strong implication” — rather than applying a double standard.

It isn't a double standard.  From the evidence gathered we are left with the implication that a Kolat Assassin killed Satsume.  Anything as to the specific reason is purely assumption based on individual reading of the clues gathered.  Now that information will very likely lead one to suspect that Satsume had a close connection of some sort with someone in the conspiracy and given the nature of the sentiments that he was sharing with them likely was at least sympathetic to some of the ideas being put forward by them.  Thus we have a strong implication that he is connected to the Kolat but the exact nature of that connection is left open at this time.  So anything we say like he was killed for opposing the agenda is merely an assumption as we don't have any specific evidence as to why he was actually killed.

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Having finished the Emerald Champion adventure as a GM about 30 hours ago, my take is as follows.

  • Satsume confided some of his doubts about the current crop of Hanteis with a friend in Otosan Uchi.
  • Said friend is in fact a Kolat agent, and sees this as an opportunity to recruit the Emerald Champion.  This may have been slightly over-ambitious, but think of the coup if it worked!
  • Letters are exchanged, with Kolat propaganda being sent Satsume's way.  Satsume does not immediately call for his correspondent's arrest.
  • In the meantime, the Grinning Crane's researching some sort of precedent about inheritance in the Emerald Archives, and discovers something that solves his problem (that is, Sotorii's cruel and Daisetsu's weak).
  • Once Satsume tells his friend he's got a solution, that doesn't appear to upset the Celestial Order, said correspondent gets very nervous, and decides that 'The Green' needs bumped off before he can carry out his plan, or expose his sympathies.

Of note, the kolat are not a super-secret conspiracy, but are relatively well-known to the authorities.

  • Sumiko knows of them, and considers that knowledge of their ideals by everyone is more dangerous than letting them fester because you can't tell everyone they exist.
  • Kagi is obsessed with them, and thinks they're behind everything.
  • the PCs can use the information in the propaganda to find references to the sects in the Imperial Magistrate library, which identifies the group by name and describes their aims.

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So I re-read the adventure and here are some highlights:

BEWARE! SPOILERS FOR "IN THE CASTLE OF THE EMERALD CHAMPION"

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Despite public shows of respect and mourning for the late Emerald Champion, Satsume’s death is still a hot topic of (whispered) discussion.  Speculation  abounds  that  it  was  actually  a  murder,  given  how  many  people  had  motives.  Very  few  people  genuinely liked him, no one is sincerely mourning him, and no one is  terribly  sorry  he’s  gone—not  even  the  Crane  Champion,  his  eldest daughter Doji Hotaru, it seems. However, no one would openly admit to harboring these sentiments, and everyone still behaves “properly” when pressed for honest opinions.

Everybody hated Satsume. Not important for this discussion, but just so we all know he was a jerk (to the dismay of Manchu)

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He knows that Satsume did try to hide some physical deterioration during the last few weeks of his life, such as difficulty going up the stairs of the castle. However, Sō continues, in his pride, Satsume never admitted to such a weakness. [...] Kāgi  can  confirm  that  Satsume  was  indeed  of  declining health,  but  kept  it  a  close  secret

This is also interesting. Satsume was either getting old or developing some serious illness. This was not the effect of the poison that killed him, as it takes only a few hours to kill the victim.

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NPC ABILITY: FOR THE GOOD OF THE EMPIRE

Sumiko is a firm believer in the Emperor's divine right to rule, and thinks foremost of the Empire's well-being in each deci-sion she makes. Increase the TN of Command or Courtesy skill checks to convince her to act against the wishes of the Emperor, even for the best of reasons, by 2.

A pick from Sumiko's NPC stat block. Relevant as it can give some insight about how she'll react to THE Imperial Decree.

Quote

- These are all handwritten  notes  concerning  the  worrisome  state  of  the  Emerald  Empire,  and all in the same style as the ones found earlier in the room. (Satsume's writing, in Satsume's room)

- Others  papers,  though,  are  not  so  mundane—they  are  filled  with   correspondence   concerning   the   unjust   nature   of   how   Rokugan is governed, specifically about the Imperial family and its fitness to rule. The handwriting on them doesn't match any the PCs have seen before, but appears to be addressed to Satsume. (these are found in the secret cave)

- There is great joy from your first accomplishment. Now that the green is dead, ensure the red is next. (Coded note in the hennery)

- The  papers  contain  the  same  unfamiliar  handwriting as on the papers found earlier in the cave tunnel, but are addressed to some-one  called  "Hidden  Serpent."  The  words  angrily  denounce  "the  green"  for  betraying  humans to the Kami. This is clearly directed at Satsume, the Emerald Champion. (secret room under the granary)

- There  is  also  some  Kolat  propaganda  that  matches the unknown handwriting on the papers the PCs found in  the  cave  and  in  the  secret  room,  but  more  unsettling  there  are some papers with graceful calligraphy in a familiar blue ink. If the PCs earlier found Satsume's papers or have any of his papers with them, they realize the writing style is identical. [...] These are correspondence with someone he calls "his friend and peer" at Otosan Uchi, the Imperial capital. In them, Satsume says he is convinced that the two Imperial heirs  are  totally  unsuited  for  rule,  one  being  too  cruel  and  the  other too weak. Such thoughts, while not formally of the Kolat, are still blasphemy against the rule of the divine Hantei family! Whoever  his  high-ranking  correspondent  is,  that  person  seems to have encouraged such dangerous beliefs, but became upset  when  Satsume  indicated  he  had  a  possible  solution  to  the matter that would keep the Empire stable. Satsume's words assure him that all will be well and that the Empire will endure, but  they  are  still  highly  heretical  and  treasonous. (all this is found in the body of the assassin sent to kill Sumiko)

These are all the papers and correspondence that back ups that Satsume was in contact with somebody from the Kolat, and that he was killed for "betraying" them. If Satsume knew that this friend was Kolat or not is unsure. But Satsume's thoughts regarding the Hantei Dynasty were blasphemous, that's for sure. Also, here's where I read that opinion on the heirs.

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Tomo  has  been  a  fanatical  member  of  the  Kolat  for  years  now,  ever  since  he  witnessed  one  of  the  Emperor's  heirs  angrily  kill  a  peasant  who  had  fallen  in  his  way.  This  convinced  Tomo  that  humans needed to rule Rokugan, not the offspring of the Kami.[...]  His Kolat superiors at Otosan Uchi  determined  Satsume  must  be  eliminated,  for  though  Satsume didn't want either Imperial heir on the throne, he did want to keep the Empire secure—something they are against.

This is in the background of the assassin. I suppose the heir mentioned is Sotorii? Either that, or this assassin has the same age as the emperor! And given that he's a shinobi and being able to fight with 4 Pcs at the same time, I'd rule out that option. So Sotorii killed a peasant some years ago, it seems. This guy is competing with Joffrey for "Most hated heir in fantasy fiction". Also, more of Satsume's opinions.

Quote

They  have  several  options  and  many  ways  to  justify  them. 

- They  could  present  their  gathered  evidence that Satsume had anti-Imperial beliefs and was killed by  a  Kolat  assassin.  They  could  leave  out  Satsume's  thoughts,  and  only  report  the  assassination. A revelation that Satsume was convinced that neither of the Emperor's heirs were worthy of the throne would be terrible.

- Satsume had Kolat leanings or was a member of the Kolat, and was  assassinated  by  Kolat  members  or  a  rival  Kolat  cell.  The  PCs should have plenty of evidence to back this up, and Sumiko looks over everything they present carefully.

These are two of the options given to the players to wrap up the adventure (they can also lie and say it was natural causes), and serve as a summary of shorts about the PCs findings.

Make of all this what you want.

Edited by Tabris2k

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Well, it is clear — or for some, strongly implied — that Satsume was assassinated by the Kolat for opposing their agenda. note this is NOT an assumption; it is stated plainly.

It’s also clear that Satsume did not want Sotorii to ascend the throne, and certainly not in furtherance of some Kolat plot.

Finally, Satsume — like every other character whose opinion we know — judged Sotorii negatively.

Edited by Manchu

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10 minutes ago, Manchu said:

Well, it is clear — or for some, strongly implied — that Satsume was assassinated by the Kolat for opposing their agenda. note this is NOT an assumption; it is stated plainly.

It’s also clear that Satsume did not want Sotorii to ascend the throne, and certainly not in furtherance of some Kolat plot.

Finally, Satsume — like every other character whose opinion we know — judged Sotorii negatively.

Then again, Satsume judged everyone negatively, and there are NPCs willing to tell you that in the module, so this is a pretty clear character trait :)

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1 minute ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

Then again, Satsume judged everyone negatively, and there are NPCs willing to tell you that in the module, so this is a pretty clear character trait :)

Except for his kolat buddy that he confided in to share his blasphemous thoughts to........and subsequently had Satsume killed.

#irony

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8 minutes ago, Ishi Tonu said:

Except for his kolat buddy that he confided in to share his blasphemous thoughts to........and subsequently had Satsume killed.

#irony

He really should have invested more in his Sentiment skill.  Is there anyone whose character he assessed correctly?

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Satsume was idolized by his son and his adoptive daughter felt gratitude and love for him. Sumiko seems to have held him in high regard. The same is true of the Imperial Chancellor. Of course, respect is not affection.

The Smiling Crane was not an easy man to get along with but he was not a social pariah or a crackpot.

So far as I can recall, Sotorii and Daisetsu are the only characters we know Satsume judged negatively.

Don’t even mention Hotaru. Satsume had the greatest love and respect for his eldest child, otherwise he would never have allowed her to succeed him.

Edited by Manchu

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"Very few people genuinely liked him, no one is sincerely mourning him, and no one is terribly sorry he’s gone—not even the Crane Champion, his eldest daughter Doji Hotaru, it seems. However, no one would openly admit to harboring these sentiments, and everyone still behaves “properly” when pressed for honest opinions."

"The clan representatives all agree that Satsume was not well liked and was becoming increasingly cruel and violent toward others. Though he was generally an effective Emerald Champion, his frequent disappearances and his contempt for some of the Emperor’s commands were hindering him in his duty."

  • "Satsume was a strict father. He hardly spoke to his eldest daughter, Hotaru, after his wife’s death. Not that he spoke with her much before it, either."
  • "Sumiko would often grumble about Satsume’s secrets, frustrated with how he felt no obligation to keep her informed of his efforts and whereabouts. She absolutely did not trust him."
  • "Satsume was an aggressive sparring partner, at times needlessly injuring his soldiers during martial practices in the training yard. He was often very harsh in his criticisms, and demanded more from everyone around him."
  • "Satsume was a great compromiser, ensuring that no one was happy with his decisions but also that no one was too angry with them. He didn't get along with most here, though. One time, Akiba says, she overheard Sumiko and Satsume arguing about their duties to the Emperor, but the disagreement went unresolved."

"Kāgi can confirm that Satsume was indeed of declining health, but kept it a close secret. Only those close to him, like Kāgi himself, knew it. It is unlikely anyone else noticed, as Kāgi admits that no one really liked Satsume, not even his own daughters. That made sense, Kāgi adds, as the Emerald Champion never appeared to care much for his daughters, Hotaru (the Crane Champion, who visits the castle occasionally) and Shizue, though he seemed less indifferent to his son, Kuwanan."

I feel that the adventure doesn't agree with your beliefs, @Manchu.

 

Edited by Tonbo Karasu
Formatting

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“To hear Kuwanan’s side of the story, Doji Satsume was an exacting but just father. Kuwanan loved Teinko just as much as Hotaru did, and had mourned her just as deeply, but he was the son Satsume had always wanted. His father had lavished all of his love on Kuwanan, and he was incapable of seeing Satsume as the cold taskmaster that Hotaru saw.”

“Satsume had formally adopted her [Shizue], not just giving her a family but making her one of Doji-no-Kami’s own line. He had been a gruff and distant father figure, as so many parents were, but he had never been unkind to her.”

The Stories We Tell

”She [Sumiko] had not been a friend of Doji Satsume’s, but she had never questioned his loyalty, nor he hers. She had respected him, and they always worked well together.”

Wildcats and Dragon Teeth

“He [Yoshi] wouldn’t forget Satsume because he had been a strong leader ... and, yes, a demanding one. But demanding excellence from your vassals was how you made them strong, too.”

”’Satsume was great man,’ he said. ‘He represented and served our family, our clan, and our Empire with honor.’”

Court Games

“Father did not expect of you [Kuwanan] what he expected of me [Hotaru]. You never failed him, because your success didn’t matter,”

A Crane Takes Flight

Edited by Manchu

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8 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

Are we really gonna ignore that Sotorii killed a peasant just for falling in his way??!! And that he was basically a child when he did it??!!

Thing is, this just sounds like Sotorii, and I reckon we're mostly thinking, "Yep, guy's a jerk."  Whereas, there is legitimate and interesting debate to be had about Satsume.

Despite all the quotes about people disliking him, there are others about the people he got on with.  These are mostly aggressive young men, but then again that is the archetypal bushi.  A quick related side note - it used to be the case that the Emerald Champion was responsible for at least some of the teaching of the Imperial children.

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2 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

Thing is, this just sounds like Sotorii, and I reckon we're mostly thinking, "Yep, guy's a jerk."  Whereas, there is legitimate and interesting debate to be had about Satsume.

Despite all the quotes about people disliking him, there are others about the people he got on with.  These are mostly aggressive young men, but then again that is the archetypal bushi.  A quick related side note - it used to be the case that the Emerald Champion was responsible for at least some of the teaching of the Imperial children.

Indeed. That's why Sumiko (in her capacity as acting-emerald-champion) is sparring with Sotorii in Wildcats & Dragon's Teeth.

Satsume isn't - at least, given what we know - a Kolat member. After all, if what he wanted was to destroy the Imperial family, then coming up with a solution to keep the Hantei bloodline in power rather than letting a totally unfit ruler take the helm of the empire and watch it all explode is the reverse of what he should be doing.

The Kolat appear to have been scaled back from super-evil-conspiracy-no-one-knows-about to a convenient label to stick on nobility who want the Kami bloodlines gone (or at least their exalted status revoked); people know about them to the point that they have an entry in the library that any Emerald Magistrate can walk in and read.

You can, whilst loyal to the current Hantei, think both his heirs are unfit and want to come up with 'a backup plan'. Yes, the thoughts are blasphemous, but they're also true. So, as often happens in Rokugan, you come up with a workaround which never involves actually pointing out the flaw - which is presumably what Satsume did (there's a non-trivial chance the Emperor's idea of the Regency is actually what Satsume's idea was, although who conveyed that idea to the Emperor is currently unknown given the time gap between Satsume's Death and Tiger Stalks His Prey).

A more interesting question is who the 'friend and peer' is; there can only be so many people that Doji Satsume regarded as a peer - given that the letter hadn't been sent, it was presumably recent, but even if he wasn't Crane Champion anymore he was still the Emerald Champion - a post with very few legal peers, and even fewer occupied by people Satsume is likely to have felt close enough to to (a) call a friend and (b) send a letter with content like that to.

16 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

I mean, he has actual, legit Kolat writings piled up in his cave, and you can only have those if you are a member

Or if you're sent Kolat propaganda by a Kolat member trying to recruit you. Which is definitely what was happening. Whether the recruiting got any further is obviously not stated explicitly but it's implied no.

14 hours ago, Manchu said:

Along the lines of Kinzen’s comment, I don’t believe the Kolat are un-out-foxable.

Given that their first appearance in the story is "great! we can recruit this guy! Oh, no, we can't.....mistake......bugger.....bugger.....kill him nowwwwwww!!!!!" I would agree. They may be far reaching, and influential, and all that good stuff, but they're not omniscient or omnipotent or satsume's assassination wouldn't have gone the way it did.

11 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

Are we really gonna ignore that Sotorii killed a peasant just for falling in his way??!! And that he was basically a child when he did it??!!

No-one's ignoring it, but are you really surprised? They're not exactly making the reasons to dislike him subtle.

 

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2 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

A more interesting question is who the 'friend and peer' is; there can only be so many people that Doji Satsume regarded as a peer - given that the letter hadn't been sent, it was presumably recent, but even if he wasn't Crane Champion anymore he was still the Emerald Champion - a post with very few legal peers, and even fewer occupied by people Satsume is likely to have felt close enough to to (a) call a friend and (b) send a letter with content like that to.

I reckoned that this was one of the letters that had been sent by Satsume already, then sent on to Hidden Serpent to plant in Sumiko's quarters when he murdered her.

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8 minutes ago, Manchu said:

I suspect there is no actual Kolat and the whole thing is just a Scorpion op.

Well the adventure and Emerald Empire would beg to disagree.

I'm hopeful that we see the Kolat used properly this time.  They can be a great background villain if used properly rather than the mustache twirling villains that AEG turned them into. 

Ideally I'm hoping they end up being seen as a Yakuza/Mafia type organization that most dismiss as simple criminals, but as you get deeper and deeper into the organization and rise through the ranks you are introduced to new ideas and eventually you realize the true goals they are working towards and that the "criminal" enterprise is just a front to generate resources and distract the authorities from their true goals.  We sort of have a hint of that in the Emerald Palace adventure where while most of the other magistrates seem aware of the Kolat they also mock Kagi for seeing them in every shadow, suggesting that they aren't perceived, at least by the magistrates in general, as a major threat.

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29 minutes ago, Manchu said:

I suspect there is no actual Kolat and the whole thing is just a Scorpion op.

Would be funny if the “friend and peer” was actually Shoju. He’s pushing the regency to have Daisetsu kidnapped later and keep a eternal regency of the Scorpion. 

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8 minutes ago, Schmoozies said:

Well the adventure and Emerald Empire would beg to disagree.

This whole tangent demonstrates why posters should avoid snarky blank statements like this. Plus, I already demonstrated that the RPG starter adventure material is extremely questionable.

3 minutes ago, Tabris2k said:

Would be funny if the “friend and peer” was actually Shoju. He’s pushing the regency to have Daisetsu kidnapped later and keep a eternal regency of the Scorpion. 

Shoju seems an unlikely suspect, especially if the purported motive is highly visible centralized Scorpion power.

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